Looking for a home can be confusing, especially if your confusion stems from the type of housing structure. If you have an idea of the kind of home you want or why you’re choosing a specific house type, you’d be more confident to search for houses for sale or rent. Here is a primer on the three housing types that are often interchanged: apartment, townhouse, and condominium.
The main determinant of an apartment is it’s rented. The entire apartment building or block is owned by a single person or entity and rented out to tenants.
Apartments may be attached, with common or individual entrances, or a walkup building with two to three stories. An apartment building may be divided by floor or by multiple units on a floor, which are accessible by stairway or elevator. Some structures are called mansion apartments, houses that were built for single-family occupancy, but transformed into an apartment. Outside, the structure looks like a typical single-family home, but the interiors have been divided and given individual entrances.
Apartments have common areas and amenities. Basic to midrange units may have a lobby, elevator or stairway, laundry area, and garden. High-end apartments offer other amenities such as a covered garage, fitness center, swimming pool, balcony, childcare center, playground, business center, and community room.
Apartment residents are responsible for maintaining the interior of their home, but the hallways and other common areas are the duty of apartment managers or landlords. ;
Pros and Cons
Apartments are your best option if you’re staying in a place temporarily; for instance, if your company assigned you a non-permanent posting in another city. You don’t need to spend much on a home. You also don’t have to pay the Homeowners Association (HOA) fee. Making structural changes, however, isn’t allowed. Even interior renovations are limited. Also, not all apartments come with free parking.
Unlike apartments, townhomes are often owned by the resident, unless it was rented out to them by the owner. ; The townhome owner owns the structure, plus the land, the lawn, backyard, and other exterior spaces within the lot. The row or complex of townhouses is composed of homes with different owners.
A townhome is a row or block of homes attached by one or two walls and extends up to three stories or higher. Each townhome has its private entrance, but the townhome complex may have a common entrance.
Townhomes may have a garden, yard, garage, and balcony. It all depends on the home design and the regulations of the HOA. HOA members can agree to have certain common areas and amenities constructed. They may also decide to hire or sign up for specific services such as snow removal, lawn maintenance, and trash pickup. HOA fees may also cover insurance.
Since residents own both the interior and exterior of their townhome, they’re responsible for cleaning and maintaining these spaces. They are free to make improvements to their property as long as it’s within the lot they own. The HOA may also opt to hire a professional cleaning and maintenance service for common areas and amenities. ;
Pros and Cons
If you want to own a home, but don’t want a big lot, a townhouse will be perfect. It’s affordable than a single-detached home, but you still own the land on which it stands. As such, your house’s value has the potential to appreciate. You’ll have a bigger floor area than an apartment, too. Plus, you’ll have the freedom to make improvements as you wish. The downside is you may have to contend with a home that looks like everyone else’s. Some HOA may also require uniformity, such as using one color of paint for outside walls.
Condominiums are the most confusing of the three if you rely on their appearance. Some condos don’t look any different from rental apartments or multilevel townhouses. But like townhomes, they’re owned by various people. Some condo owners may opt to rent out their units, too. Condo owners exclusively own the unit or units they bought, but not the exterior spaces or the land on which the building stands. The HOA jointly owns the latter.
Condos are separate homes housed in one building or series of buildings within a piece of land. Each building has a main entrance, lobby or reception, elevator, and hallways. ;
Many condo developments now offer trendy or luxurious amenities such as pool terraces, putting greens, tennis courts, outdoor kitchens, firepits, co-working spaces, bike and stroller storage, spa, library, game room, and movie room. This is on top of the standard gym or fitness center, swimming pool, playground, childcare center, and pet care service.
All maintenance activities outside of a condo unit is the responsibility of the condominium property management or administrative staff hired by the HOA. HOA fees go to trash pickup, security guards, cleaning and maintenance personnel, gardeners, pool cleaners, as well as maintenance of elevators, hallways, and landscaping.
Pros and Cons
Most condominiums are near workplaces in the city. If you plan to get a condo, you can easily find one near your office. Condos are not as pricey as a townhouse or single-detached home. You also have the freedom to renovate within the approved guidelines of the building. What you lack in condos is space, unless you’re willing to spend more for a bigger condo unit. Still, even if you invest in a large and spacious condominium unit, you still don’t own the land exclusively. On the other hand, in terms of maintenance and amenities, you’ll have the best of both worlds.